News and Tribune

Editorials

July 18, 2012

THEIR OPINION: Editorials from around Indiana

(Continued)

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Flawed premise deprives voters

ID laws do nothing more than suppress participation

Indiana’s voter ID law, which requires voters to show a valid, government-approved ID card in order for their vote to count, has been on the books for several years and was among the first in the nation to be adopted.

We’ve been an opponent of the state’s stringent law from the start, and not because we don’t want secure elections devoid of fraud. Rather, we’ve suspected from the beginning that it aimed to “solve” a problem that did not exist, and would serve more to suppress voter participation than it would to prevent fraud in the polling place.

While ours has been a somewhat lonely position, at least among the majority of politicians and other newspaper editorial boards, the prevailing view of these laws may be about to change. We hope so.

The Associated Press, in a story released last weekend, reported that it had reviewed temporary ballots from Indiana and Georgia, which also was an early adopter of a strict voter ID law, and found that more than 1,200 such votes were tossed during the 2008 general election. It also found that this year, in sparsely attended primaries in Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee, hundreds more ballots were blocked.

What the AP’s review suggests is that legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than cases of fraud that advocates say they’re trying to prevent.

Of course, in this fall’s general election, thousands more votes could hang in the balance when larger states with new, similar rules tally votes. Not only does this mean legitimate voters are being stymied, but that close elections could actually be decided by this law rather than the will of the people.

Voter ID laws have largely been fueled by Republicans who say they want to prevent fraud. Now that evidence is mounting to show their reasoning to be flawed, we suggest they take another look. And we urge Democrats to start raising their voices about it.

Indiana already has its share of laws unfriendly to voters, including its absurdly early registration deadline a full month before Election Day. It’s time to re-examine the premise of Indiana’s voter ID law and take an honest look at its unfortunate consequences.

— Tribune-Star, Terre Haute

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